House hunting sucks wherever you go. But at least house hunting in a foreign country lends itself to some important cultural learnings.
Cultural learning 1:
Bomb shelters. No really, bomb shelters. Probably four out of the six houses we looked at yesterday had bomb shelters. Reinforced doors and walls, no windows, the real deal. Crazy. Practical for storage purposes and also in the event of war breaking out, but still very strange.
Cultural learning 2:
Most apartments have maid’s quarters. This much we knew. What we didn’t expect was how tiny and generally pretty horrible they are. The first one we saw gained approving nods from the real estate agent because it had a window. Fancy. It would not have been big enough to accommodate a single bed, let alone be someone’s permanent place of residence. Granted the maid would have her own bathroom. Another cupboard adjoining the kitchen with a toilet, and a shower that you could only use if sitting or standing on the toilet. The agent assured us this was a very generous maid’s quarters. Some people, he told us, make their maids sleep in the bomb shelter. A sealed, windowless room.
Cultural learning 3:
Agents upon agents. In Singapore, we as tenants have a property agent. The landlords also have a property agent. So when you go to look at apartments, you go with your agent, then you meet the landlord’s agent at the property, then you go inside and you most likely meet your landlord. The entire process is so incredibly convoluted. Especially when the landlord agent stands in the hallway on his phone while the landlords spruik their apartment and justify why they haven’t renovated the bathroom yet.
The hunt continues today. We convinced the agent to show us some places in the conveniently located red light district. It’s Singapore, how bad could it be?